A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the mischief in this animated series -- which is based on the raucous movie Barnyard -- is slightly tamer than in the big-screen version, which included drinking, joyriding, getting chased by cops, and more. But ringleader Otis (a male cow who, inexplicably, has udders) still plots, schemes, and tricks his comrades into following his selfish, often-devious plans. Those plans sometimes lead to peril (a plummeting hot air balloon) or cartoonish violence (knocks to the head, etc.), but no one is ever injured.
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What's the story?
The animated spin-off BACK AT THE BARNYARD picks up a few years after the movie left off. Time has done little to raise the Farmer's (voiced by Fred Tatasciore) awareness of his herd's ability to walk, talk, and throw parties undetected under his nose. Mischievous cow Otis (voiced by Chris Hardwick) leads his gang into hair-brained schemes that bring them ever closer to human discovery. Whether it's plotting to get the Farmer out of the way for a barnyard party or persuading the other animals to open a restaurant and disguise themselves as people, Otis' wacky plans always ensure plenty of mayhem and madness down on the farm. The barnyard gang includes wise-cracking mouse Pip (Jeff Garcia), sassy cow Bessy (Wanda Sykes), food addict Pig (Tino Insana), and newcomer cow Abby (Leigh-Allyn Baker), whose natural athletic ability drives Otis crazy.
Is it any good?
While Back at the Barnyard is, on the whole, tamer than its big-screen predecessor (there's no insinuation of drinking or gambling in this version), it's still sends some iffy messages to kids. Otis often coerces his peers into following his lead or schemes with them to pull one over on the Farmer. And no matter how extreme the trouble they get into, they always manage to work their way out of it -- and back into one another's good graces -- within each episode's 30-minute window. Perhaps most eyebrow-raising of all are the misconceptions kids might develop about barnyard animals -- not so much because they talk and walk upright, but because, once again, Otis the male cow sports a protruding set of udders. A biology lesson this is not, so be sure to correct the (hopeful) oversight for your kids.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about being responsible. Kids: Do you think Otis and his friends act responsibly? Why or why not? What makes them do what they do? How does it affect the animals and people around them? Have you ever been talked into doing something you didn't want to do by a friend (or done the talking-into yourself)? What happened? Do you think cartoons like this one encourage questionable behavior in kids? Why or why not? How do you which behavior you see in the media is OK to copy and which isn't?
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